Lots of would-be designers are attracted to the profession because they enjoy decorating and feel they have a knack for it. Most have no idea what running a design business is really about. I know I didn’t. It never occurred to me that 90 percent of the job was administration, detail and project management. It was a rude awakening for me. I adapted, but it wasn’t easy. It took me a long time to learn the shortcuts and put the proper systems in place.
This isn’t an easy profession, and it’s even harder today because consumers have higher expectations than ever. They are our competition, and they’re shopping, checking our prices, and demanding more service for the money they invest. Are you prepared to deal with these challenging clients?
Most design schools do a good job of teaching design, but they don’t really explain how to run a profitable business, how to get clients, how to keep them happy and, most importantly, how to get them to refer business to you. Only about four in 10 small businesses are still around after 10 years, because their owners did not have the necessary business skills and/or did put in the work necessary to keep the business going and growing.
I’m not saying you can’t do design as a hobby, but the mindset is entirely different from running a design business. If you plan to work only part-time, don’t expect to make more than about $10,000 to $25,000 a year, and that’s if you’re willing to do some work to get clients and learn the basics of running projects.
On the other hand, if you’re running a full-time design business you should be bringing in at least $100,000 in gross revenues a year. If you’re not achieving these kinds of results, then something has to change. It’s important to identify where you have knowledge gaps and then fill them. Someone who wants to build a real business understands that it takes investing in your education to be more successful. I still have a business coach, and I continue to invest in Erin’s and my education. That’s the only way to stay competitive.
Trust me, I speak from experience when I say that learning by trial and error is extremely expensive, not to mention frustrating. It’s much better to invest in getting the education you need from someone who knows the ropes and can teach you the shortcuts. Paying for mentoring and education saves time, money and stress.
When you budget for education, you should allow between three to five percent of your gross revenue for education. If you’re doing $100,000 per year in gross revenue, that’s $3,000 to $5,000 a year for education. That level of investment should produce a return of at least $15,000 to $25,000 in gross revenue to your business. Of course, you can’t just take the classes, you have to do the work and apply what you learn. If you’re a hobbyist or working only part-time, then it’s probably not worth it to you to spend a lot on education, because you’re not going to get a big enough return to make it worthy your while. However, if you’re new to the industry or want to grow you business and are serious about building a business with revenues of $100,000 or more a year, then we can help you, too.
Of course we want you to take our classes, but it’s because we want to help you succeed beyond your wildest imagination. We’ve been in your shoes and we understand your challenges. However, we may not be right for you, and that’s okay. Find someone that you trust to teach you. Just do it!
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